DUI Attorney: What the Police Look for When Suspecting OUI

When a police officer makes contact with a motor vehicle operator that he/she has suspicion may be under the influence, the officer will look at various criteria to confirm or dispel the suspicion. For example, the officer will ask the operator to produce his license and the vehicle registration. While trying to verify that the operator has a license, and the vehicle is registered, the officer is also looking to see whether the operator has any difficulty taking out the license and vehicle paperwork.

Some of the questions at this stage of the stop are, “Did the operator have any difficulty taking the license out his his/her wallet or purse, such as dropping the license or going past the license several times before being able to produce the same?” Similarly, “Was the operator able to hand over the registration, without difficulty finding it or dropping it in the process?”

If alcohol has been consumed in any amount and the odor is detectable from within the vehicle, the officer is likely to ask a series of question to determine where the operator is coming from and going. Also, there will be a series of questions as to the amount and location of alcohol consumed throughout the course of the evening.

If the officer’s suspicion of OUI increases at this time, you will be asked to exit the vehicle, according dui attorney Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA. Note that while you are exiting the vehicle you are being watched as to how efficiently you grab the door handle to exit the vehicle, and how you step out of the vehicle. For example, if you step down to the ground and stumble off to the side or side-step, the officer is going to note this in making a decision whether to arrest for OUI.

As you can see from the above-referenced criteria, in a very short period of time, an officer is going to be able to make numerous observations which can either confirm or deny the original suspicion of OUI. These observations are being recorded before the opportunity to perform field sobriety tests has even been granted.

Contact the Law Office of Shane W. Surrette for any questions or a free consultation.

Meaning of ‘Intent to Distribute’ by Drug Attorney Shane. W. Surrette

What  Does it Mean to Possess Drugs With the Intent to Distribute

Whenever there is a charge or indictment for possession of drugs with the intent to distribute, often times the main issue to be litigated is whether or not the government can prove an intent to distribute, according to drug attorney Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA. For example, beyond claiming an observed hand to hand transaction, many times the government will allege that the presence of certain items make the case an intent to distribute rather than a mere possession case.

Some of the items that the government will look at to determine if there was an intent to distribute include: the presence of cutting instruments(cut product), various cell phones, numerous cut corner baggies, lists with numbers and/or names, as well as large amounts of both narcotics and cash. Usually the Commonwealth will utilize a police officer witness to testify in an expert capacity that the presence of some or all of the items listed above show that the drugs possessed were consistent with an intent to distribute.

Clearly, as the number of items listed above increases, the likelihood that the Commonwealth will be able to prove an intent to distribute also increases. For example, if the only allegation of an intent to distribute is the high quantity of drugs found, than that could obviously be indicative of someone who uses a lot of the drug, is not a dealer, and who possessed the drugs for personal use.

Similarly, as with any innocent items found with drugs, the central issue comes down to whether the items can be explained away, or whether the inescapable conclusion is that their presence shows that the drugs possessed are consistent with an intent to distribute. This is a fact driven determination and from a defense perspective less is obviously more.

DUI Attorney Advice on Drunk Driving Arrest

We have reached the end of the summer and as the warm weather fades, there will be a lot of cookouts and Labor Day celebrations. As with any celebration, alcohol is likely to be served or will simply be made available.

As a result, it is common to have a few drinks with your friends and family as you relax and unwind. What is important to keep in mind is that after each drink you consume, your alertness, judgment, and ability to respond promptly get lessened. This is what the standard is for operating under the influence of alcohol under Massachusetts law, according to Worcester dui attorney Shane W. Surrette.

You simply don’t have to be drunk, unconscious, or falling over to be arrested and charged with operating under the influence. With a low standard to be charged with operating under the influence, and with common misconceptions about what it actually means to be under the influence, many people will be arrested in the coming weeks after enjoying end of summer celebrations.

With this in mind, just because you are arrested for operating under the influence doesn’t mean that you must run into court and admit to the charge because you believe that the evidence is stacked against you. When you admit to an OUI-first offense, a standard disposition in Worcester County is a continuance without a finding. This means that you admit to sufficient facts to support a guilty finding, but a guilty finding will never enter if you complete certain conditions.

The conditions will include an alcohol education awareness program plus its program fee, as well as fees and fines in the realm of $600, with a further $65 per month supervised probation fee. You will also lose your license for 45-90 days, which is in addition to the suspension pursuant to the breathalyzer test.

The fees, fines, license loss, and conditions will only get more severe based on the number of prior admissions/convictions on your record. As a result, it is important in most situations to suit up and proceed to jury trial.

If you have any questions, please contact dui attorney Shane W. Surrette at the link below:

Breaking & Entering: Definition by Worcester Criminal Defense Lawyer

Breaking and Entering in the Nighttime

There are various locations that the crime of breaking and entering in the nighttime can be committed in Massachusetts, according to Worcester criminal defense lawyer Shane W. Surrette. Some of these locations include buildings, houses, vehicles, boats and other vessels, just to name a few.  The essential elements include breaking, which is more than just smashing a door to enter a residence. Breaking also covers opening an unlocked door, going through an open window not intended as an entrance, as well as removing a screen to enter a building.

Additionally, there has to be an entry. This is accomplished by physically entering a  building. Similarly, an entry can be accomplished by controlling an item that goes inside the structure, even if you don’t personally enter. For example, opening a car door, and using a stick to sift around the interior is sufficient to cover the elements of breaking and entering.

The third element, which is the most significant under Massachusetts law, is the intent that is alleged. If the allegation is a breaking and entering with the intent to commit a misdemeanor therein, than the crime is a misdemeanor. If however, the intent is to commit a felony, than the charge is a felony.

In the absence of an expressed intent to commit a particular crime in either a complaint or indictment, the jury may infer that there is an intent to commit a larceny therein. The final element is that the breaking and entering has to occur in the nighttime. Nighttime under Mass. law is defined as one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise.

To read more about the recent local break-ins, click the following link: https://www.telegram.com/article/20120822/NEWS/108229937/1101/local

Meaning of “Under the Influence” by Worcester Defense Attorney

What Does It Means to Be Under the Influence of Alcohol

Under Massachusetts law there are two ways for the government to prove that someone committed the offense of operating under the influence of alcohol, according to defense attorney Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA. The Commonwealth may allege that at the time of operation, the person’s blood alcohol content, as measured by a breathalyzer test, was .08 or above. The Commonwealth may also allege operation on a public way at a time the person’s alertness, judgment, and ability to respond promptly were reduced by the consumption of alcohol.

When there is a breathalyzer test taken that is .08 or above, the Commonwealth will normally proceed under both theories of OUI. When there is a breathalyzer refusal or failure of the machine to record a number, the Commonwealth will only be able to proceed on the under the influence or reduced alertness branch of the statute.

In cases proceeded on under both theories, the Commonwealth has more to throw at the proverbial wall in hope that something sticks. For example, if the breath test result is high, but the person shows no signs of impairment, the breath test will be highlighted at trial beyond the under the influence theory, and vice versa.

What is essential in any OUI case whether one is charged under one or both prongs of the statute, is to choose a criminal defense attorney with experience trying cases with and without a breathalyzer test. When the government throws it all at the all hoping that something sticks, go with an experienced OUI attorney who can even out the odds.

For a free consultation with Attorney Shane W. Surrette, click the button below:

Why is the Smell of Pot Not Enough to Arrest? by MA Defense Attorney

In a recent Worcester Superior Court decision, the marijuana search and seizure laws were applied and the case highlighted that an exit order from a vehicle is not appropriate where the odor of burnt marijuana alone provides the criminal suspicion. Similarly, probable cause is not established to allow for a search of a motor vehicle based solely on the odor of burnt marijuana, unless there is probable cause to believe that a “criminal amount of marijuana” is present within the vehicle, according to Defense Attorney Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA.

While the defendant in the case admitted that he had smoked marijuana earlier in the evening and had a small amount of marijuana within his possession, it was held that the Trooper’s observations and the defendant’s admissions were insufficient to allow for an exit order or subsequent search. This case highlights that additional factors need to be present beyond the mere odor of less than a criminal amount of marijuana to order an individual out of a car and to search the car. 

What is important under the marijuana search and seizure law is to what extent is the exit order and subsequent search solely based on the odor of burnt marijuana? For example, Courts will often look to whether there is any objective criteria indicating that the officer might have a reasonable fear for his safety or that of the public. Also, Courts will see if there are additional factors to bolster reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, such as whether or not there are any instruments such as digital scales which might be suggestive of an intent to distribute the marijuana.

Similarly, if there is erratic operation coupled with an odor of marijuana, the additional factor of the erratic operation may provide sufficient suspicion for an exit order based on a belief that the operator is driving while under the influence of marijuana/narcotics. As the factors in support of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity increase, the more likely it is that the exit order and subsequent search will be upheld.

To read more of the article in the Telegram & Gazette click here.

To contact Defense Attorney Shane W. Surrette, please click the link below:

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